Dancing for Donations


Longtime dance instructor Celeste Diaz at the North Brandon and Campo Family YMCAs will be the first to tell you this story is not about her. It’s about the kids. “This is a story about the power of children giving to other children,” Celeste says. “It is truly touching,” she says. 


Sisters Sienna, 6, and Brielle, 7, took it upon themselves to help other kids dance. They’ve been taking tap, jazz and ballet lessons with Celeste since they were toddlers. “I remember when Sienna was born,” Celeste recalls.


The girls raised money for the Campo Y’s annual campaign by making beaded jewelry and asking for donations at a table set up outside their Lithia home. Dad even helped out. “It was a family thing,” says their mom, Tracey Cardoso.


They made signs that read “Send a Child to Dance Camp” and also offered lemonade and lollipops. Mom says it was well received with the community. “We posted it on our neighborhood Facebook page, so that was helpful,” Tracey recalls. “Some people just drove by and donated a quarter. When they heard what it was about then I started seeing more dollars going in.”


The girls started with a goal of $50 and went well over that, collecting more than $126 in donations. “We had a lot of money,” Sienna says. Brielle says it made them feel good and happy the money was going to help other children. Their mom makes it a point to tell her girls how fortunate they are. “My husband grew up very, very poor,” Tracy says. “We’ve worked very hard to keep reminding them that it’s not always like this.”


Celeste herself couldn’t afford dance lessons when she was a child. “All children have value. I think sometimes they don’t know how to help. I try to instill how to use what we love to help others,” she says. As a child, Celeste paid for her own lessons by saving up chore money. “I want to share that with the kids and I want them to have the opportunities to have what I didn’t have at that age. I wanted to dance so badly and my parents didn’t have a whole lot.”


Tracey explains why they choose the Y despite all the dance class options they have in Tampa Bay. “It’s not just dance,” Tracey says. “Celeste instills the kindness, the discipline, the love they need to gain as a person. When they want to do other things I’m like, ‘ok- but we’re keeping dance,’” jokes mom. “We choose to stay here because of those reasons beyond dance that you don’t get somewhere else.”


Dance and all arts are a great way for all children to express themselves. For more information about the Y’s dance programs, stop by your local Y’s Welcome Center.



Pictured above: Sisters Sienna, 6, and Brielle Cardoso, 7, ask for donations outside their Lithia home to go toward the Campo Y’s annual campaign. 

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